Putting together the pieces

Since I’ve started writing my Invictus story and have talked to my parents, it’s amazing what they remember that I don’t. Or what my mind has willed me to forget. Talking with them for my story (since it’s not just about me) has helped me to put together the pieces of my puzzle: when this happened, that happened, how they felt about this, why they did that. It’s helping me re-create my outline as well as remember bits of the story I had all but forgotten.

When I sat down to have a conversation with my parents about myself, I’ll admit I tended to think that I knew everything they would say. After all, we were talking about me. But soon my naïve self realized something: It’s not just my story. It’s their story as well. I wasn’t prepared to hear the secret conversations they had behind my back. I truly thought at the time they had no idea. I’m not kidding. I really thought they had no idea that I was trying to starve myself, that I hated myself, that I wanted to end my own life. But talking with them has helped me to realize they did have these conversations. They did know. And they were terrified because they didn’t know what to do when they had a daughter with these serious issues.

This is exactly why it’s important to have more than just “I” in a memoir. Other people are just as crucial to the story as myself. They are helping me fill in the holes, the missing pieces of the puzzle I didn’t even know existed. Throughout my story, I have scenes where I’m not even present. I believe these will be the most telling because they are stepping outside of my views and what I saw on a daily basis and letting the reader into what my parents saw.

I won’t lie. It has been hard so far. Delving into the past and bringing up those feelings are never easy. Memories fade and get fuzzy, minds unconsciously shove out what they don’t want to remember. But having these conversations and filling in the puzzle pieces are in turn filling in my story because one person never has all the answers. I know I don’t, not even for my own story.

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  • Chlling. I don’t think I could handle hearing about the conversations my parents had behind my back. You’re a bold kid, Sara. Good luck!

    • The Invictus Project forces writers to tell an important moment in their lives, but to tell that from the perspective of everyone involved. That means asking people to tell their own stories, and not just react to some action thrust upon them. It’s not an easy task, and more writers fail at this than succeed (in our project). Sara is doing some amazing work, though.